Projet Montréal mayoral candidate Valérie Plante announced a public transit plan Tuesday that would see bus and Metro fares lowered — and eventually eliminated — for seniors and children under 12.
Plante said Tuesday that she wants "to be the mayor of public transport" and would reduce fares for people living below the poverty line by 40 per cent.
She said reduced fares for low-income people have already been introduced in other Canadian cities, such as Ottawa and Guelph, Ont.
Plante said a Projet Montréal administration would draw on the Quebec government's Green Fund to subsidize fares. That fund is meant to combat poverty and offer financial support to help students get to school.
"These amazing measures have been requested for a very, very long time by the population," Plante said.
Coderre highlights adding buses
The incumbent mayor, Denis Coderre, is standing by his established approach to public transit.
He said his "balanced" vision for public transit has been approved by experts, and he criticized Plante's plan to move towards free fares.
"If you give everything for free, it can cost up to $35 million just in Montreal itself," Coderre said.
Coderre pointed out that in his first term as mayor, his administration invested heavily in public transit, adding buses and updating the STM's fleet to include electric buses.
Projet Montréal councillor Craig Sauvé had a different take on Coderre's commitment to public transit.
Sauvé said that in 2013, Coderre promised there would be a progressive fare structure for public transit, based on income, but after he was elected, he denied ever making that promise.
"Unfortunately, there won't be a transit debate because Mayor Coderre doesn't have the courage to go up against Mme. Plante," Sauvé said.
Sauvé was referring to the fact that Coderre has refused to participate in more than two debates with Plante — one in English and one in French.
Coderre defended that decision Sunday, saying that he is meeting people at public events daily and answering their questions in person.
Pink vs. Blue Metro lines
Plante has announced in the past that her administration would also add a new, Pink line to the Montreal Metro system. It would run diagonally from Montreal North through downtown and potentially all the way to Lachine.
Coderre countered the Pink line proposal with his own proposed extension of the Blue line which would see the line continued into Anjou, in northeast Montreal.
Meanwhile, Coalition Montréal's mayoral candidate, Jean Fortier, released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying he would begin work on a Blue line extension early in his mandate.
Fortier's proposal would extend the line south, going from Snowdon Metro station, the line's western terminus in Côte-des-Neiges, to downtown Montreal.
"My proposal is much more realistic than Valérie Plante's," he said.
Fortier's Blue line would add a stop at Beaver Lake, in Mount Royal Park, and end in Griffintown.